Australians will be able to be fast-tracked through immigration upon arriving in the UK from next year, the British Government says.
Chancellor to the Exchequer Philip Hammond made the surprise announcement when delivering the UK’s budget at the House of Commons, saying those with electronically-enabled passports will be able to pass through e-gates at airports.
“We’ll open the use of ePassport gates at Heathrow and other airports, currently only available to EEA nationals, to include visitors from the United States, Canada, New Zealand, Australia and Japan,” Mr Hammond said.
He said the budget would “send a message loud and clear to the rest of the world that Britain is open for business”.
Our 🇦🇺 High Commissioner George Brandis warmly welcomes the #Budget2018 announcement by @hmtreasury @PhilipHammondUK that Aussie passport holders will soon be able to use UK ePassport gates – we've been working towards this for some time so it is great to see it announced. ✈️ pic.twitter.com/o6Ivj5dfct
— Aus. High Commission (@AusHouseLondon) October 29, 2018
The move is widely seen as a move to strengthen ties with the five countries as Britain transitions out of the European Union from March 29 next year.
Australian High Commissioner to the UK, George Brandis, has welcomed the announcement as the Australian Government had been working towards the change for some time.
Australia is part of the Five Eyes intelligence alliance with the US, UK, New Zealand and Canada, while Japan was recently announced as having the most powerful passport in the world.
It overtook Singapore in the 2018 Henley Passport Index to be crowned No.1 in terms of travel freedom. Australia tied for seventh with Malta and Greece.